VW Van, With Man, In Devon

Ever since I started practising Zazen in Japan almost 10 years ago, I’ve been attracted to the idea of becoming a Zen monk. In 2009 I went for a week long retreat at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in Northumberland and upon my return realised that a) I could never become a monk and b) monks have got it right.

To encourage myself to focus more on my Zen practice, I saved up for 6 months in 2009, bought myself a camper van, and moved to Devon…
Undeceivable – Moonraker Zen.

Everything in me goes out to Pascal who I met briefly when he visited Throssel. There he is in his VW Moonraker, parked on the side of some wild and windy Devon road and sitting Zazen. He is doing what most of my generation, including me, dreamed of doing.

You asked about what a monk does when she goes on retreat as I am at the moment. Much the same as you Pascal in spirit at least ‘though not in form. Living each day, facing the conditions that come before me, responding to them best I can. Remaining fully committed to staying with changing circumstances. Knowing that each day is a life changing day and going with those moments even when they don’t make sense – for example go out and buy a bag of chips…or whatever. Toffee Crisp wasn’t it?

There is planning ahead. There is organizing in the micro and macro sense. And then there is what happens. There is, as happens for me, a playfulness in living which can so easily get lost in the corridors of convention and expectations.

This post has been slightly edited, particularly the last paragraph – 15th Feb. 2010.

New Book – Buddha Recognizes Buddha

Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey has just published Buddha Recognizes Buddha written by the Abbot, Rev. Master Daishin. It can be bought for 9.50 GBP through Throssel Hole Buddhist Bookshop – follow this link.

Just in case you missed the offer Sitting Buddha by the same author can be downloaded, chapter by chapter as PDF files from the Throssel website.

Rattling In The Boot

Gotta rattling in the boot (trunk). It’s heavy, it’s big (and very very useful). But. It is getting late, getting dark, temperature’s dropping. Driving on, driving.

It’s heavy. The neighbour will lift it. I’m fairly sure the neighbour will lift it. Take it to the kitchen. I’m so happy to have it. Of COURSE the neighbour will lift it.

Nope. No one in. Nobody to lift it.

I lifted it. Carried it. Took it to the kitchen. What is it? A microwave oven!

There is an ever present rhythm in us. Beating out it’s beat. It’s with us constantly but sometimes it misses beats, flutters, speeds up, slows down. And sometimes stops – then starts again. Heart beat. Breathing beat. Waking, sleeping, walking beat. Rhythms. For the most part they go unnoticed until they change, or are changed. Or the presence of rhythm is heard. How did I miss the beat!

This post is for all those very many people, some I know, who every day do not know if there will be another one when they close their eyes.

Testing the Buoyancy Of The Air

Near Nateby, Cumbria. 2010.

Light drops like honey from branch to branch
Elders balance their dishes of cream
While fledglings try small quavery leaps
Testing the buoyancy of the air.

Out walking in the sunshine. First sun I’ve seen. This poem carved in a hunk of rock beside the path. Hum. Are we not testing the buoyancy of the air, literally? Then later, the din of collective goose. I look up, eventually, to see them flying over head. Catch them in flight.

All is well as I settle to new circumstances. Life is much the same, although the details are changed.